Blog Posts Tagged with Telemarketing

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Is it insurance? Putting a premium on truth

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s self-employed, healthcare costs remain a concern.  So a phone call pitching what sounds like comprehensive health insurance coverage might attract your interest.  Except that according to the FTC and the Tennessee Attorney General, what United States Benefits LLC was selling wasn’t really health insurance.

CSI: B2B

Most marketers follow FTC happenings to get the latest on legal compliance. But while you’re visiting the Business Center, check out what BCP is doing to protect small businesses in their role as consumers. Getting the inside scoop on how B2B scams work will help you shield your company from fraudsters in the future.

Quoth the Maven

In celebration of Halloween — and with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe — here’s our take on what companies can do to make sure spooky business practices don’t come back to haunt them.




Once upon a midnight lawful
Pondering practices, good and awful,
Reading through the U.S. Code
For dos and don’ts I parse and claw.

I came upon the Trade Commission’s
Section 5 with all revisions.

Right on the money

Two announcements today underscore a key FTC enforcement priority:  getting money back for people deceived by companies’ illegal practices.

More than 110,000 refund checks totaling about $1.9 million are in the mail to loan applicants who were tricked into paying for a separate debit card through a misleading pre-checked box on an online form. According to the FTC, Swish Marketing, Inc., and VirtualWorks LLC came up with the promotion.  Both companies — and five of their corporate officers — were held liable.

Relief pitching?

“You can settle your credit card debt for pennies on the dollar without filing for bankruptcy.”

For people struggling to stay afloat, Debt Relief USA’s national TV ads must have seemed like a lifeline.  When consumers called the company, representatives assured them that low monthly payments to Debt Relief USA would cover both the settlement of their reduced debts and the company’s fees. For the service to work, said the reps, people had to stop making payments to their creditors — and stop talking to them at all.

Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Room with review

Is your briefcase feeling lighter? That’s because your dog-eared copy of Volume 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations (where most FTC rules and guides live) is decidedly thinner these days. For the past two decades, the agency has undertaken a systematic review of its rules and guides to make sure they’re up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As each rule comes up for review, we ask ourselves — and you — four questions:

Workshop to examine lottery, other money transfer scams

It may have happened to an employee, one of your customers, or a member of your family.  Someone calls to report “You’re a winner!” of a foreign lottery.  To collect, all they have to do is wire money to cover the taxes and fees.  Or the caller impersonates a grandchild or other friend-in-need and says they’re desperate to have money wired now.  Both are examples of the elaborate schemes scam artists have come up with to try to convince people to wire cash to someone they don’t know.

Welcome to Consumer University

As your customers' buying habits make clear, today’s consumer marketplace knows no borders.  That’s why the FTC and officials from nine Latin American countries are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week to consider the challenges of global consumer protection.

NCP Double-YOU

Break out the bubbly and raise a toast:  It's National Consumer Protection Week.  NCPW is an annual campaign sponsored by the FTC and nearly 30 other federal agencies, consumer groups, and advocacy organizations, in conjunction with state, county, and local government offices that are sponsoring events nationwide.  The goal?  To encourage consumers to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.

A Friendly Reminder

Paying millions in refunds.
Doing business under stringent injunctive provisions.
Posting hefty bonds before selling certain products.

For most people, the potential consequences of an FTC enforcement action are enough deterrent to stay within the bounds of the law.  But some marketers just don’t seem to get the message, as two recent cases demonstrate.

Immigration Consternation

Chances are a person you know — an employee, someone who works in your building, a neighbor perhaps — is navigating the process of getting a green card or work visa. Do them a favor and warn them about outfits that falsely claim an affiliation with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Forum on fighting phone bill ills

It may have happened to you.  You open the monthly phone bill at your business or at home and find charges for goods or services you never ordered.  It’s called cramming — and it’s illegal.

The FTC has brought numerous law enforcement actions against companies who “cram” unauthorized charges onto people’s phone bills.  This $38 million judgment entered by a federal court in California is just one example, but what more can be done to prevent it?

Four Steps to Protecting Your Business from Con Artists

You've just opened an invoice for office supplies you didn't order or for a listing in a business directory. It’s the same invoice you got last week – but this one is stamped "Past Due." Perhaps one of your colleagues says there's someone hounding her on the phone, demanding payment for Internet services your business didn’t request. You refuse to pay, and the next thing you know, they're threatening to take you to court, or turn the bill over to a collection agency and ruin your credit.

ID-ylls of the Ring: FTC rethinks TSR’s Caller ID provisions

When the FTC amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2003, it required telemarketers to transmit Caller ID information.  That policy had three benefits.  It promoted privacy by allowing people to screen out unwanted telemarketing calls.  It increased industry accountability by making it harder for companies to remain anonymous.  And it helped law enforcement by making it easier to identify fraudsters and companies who violated the Do Not Call Registry.

"Liability? Shmiability. We're just processing payments."

Short-sighted thinking like that has landed a lot of businesses in hot water with law enforcers.  They forget that the reach of federal and state consumer protection statutes can be expansive.  Under appropriate circumstances, payment processors – as well businesses handling ad copy, telemarketing, fulfillment, and a host of other functions – may be liable for the role they play in another company’s deceptive or unfair practices.

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